Sociological research must be free from stereotypes and personal biases, so that sociologists should be able to look at the world without concentration on their own experience. Mills calls this process â€œsociological imaginationâ€. One of the components of sociological imagination is history. It includes development of a society, what it used to be, what it is now and why. Another component is personal life and biography of each individual. Personal troubles and problems of a society, in general, are interconnected and influence one another. Finally, there is social structure. One can see how different social institutions work and what impact they have on people. With the help of sociological imagination, it is possible to objectively estimate a society, look beyond personal experience and see how all the components mentioned above are connected. This will help make an in-depth analysis of a society and its individuals and see how social troubles could be eliminated.
The first thing which students should learn as sociologists is the theories of social phenomena. The basic ones are those suggested by so-called â€œdead white menâ€. Marxist theory refers to capitalism and addresses such notion as the connection between society and economics. For example, one may try to understand why America is one of the biggest capitalist countries. Later, approaches concentrate on different aspects of the basic theories, thus continuing to study social interaction and phenomena. For example, Symbolic Interactionism focuses on a language, considering it to be the key factor in understanding a particular social group. People communicate with the help of words and gestures; each of which is symbolic and can tell a lot about the speakers.
Finally, there is Functionalist theory of Durkheim. He wanted to know how one part of a society was linked to the others and what factors held a society together. In the focus of Functionalism are different institutions of a society and the division of labor among people.
Each research should be conducted in seven steps. Firstly, it is necessary to define a problem and see what sociological study it should be concentrated on. Secondly, one has to gather information on the topic and see what is already known about the study. Thirdly, a researcher has to concretize a problem: formulate a hypothesis, define what exactly should be tested and what the relationship between the variables is. The fourth step would be to make a plan about in which way the research should be performed â€“ choose the appropriate methods, such as observation, survey, etc. Next, the research itself should be made. So, this is the stage when the data is collected and the recordings are undertaken. And finally, all the data acquired during the research is organized and the findings are reported, so it becomes possible to present them and compare them with the previous results. Sociologists use predominantly such methods as ethnography, surveys, experiments, life histories, comparative research, historical analysis and combination of the last two methods.
Anthropological method can be used while conducting practically any kind of sociological research, but it has both advantages and disadvantages. The primary advantage of the research is that, since it involves observation, and usually over a long period of time, it allows an in-depth analysis and thorough examination of people’s behavior. Moreover, such observation means that new aspects of the research might be found. However, observation also means that the study takes much time to conduct. In addition, the results may sometimes be not objective. This happens because sometimes the observers misinterpret human behavior due to their personal experience, biases or cultural unawareness.